Education minister visits unique fostering programme in Northern Ireland

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Education Minister, Peter Weir, has today visited a Fostering Achievement Primary Summer Scheme in Newtownards, County Down, run by Northern Ireland’s leading fostering charity The Fostering Network, where he met foster carers and children and young people in foster care.

During his visit the minister met foster carers and children and young people in foster care who shared their stories and experiences with him. He also saw how this programme supports the education of looked after children by working collaboratively with carers, educationalists, social workers and the voluntary sector to meet children’s needs, deliver services and improve outcomes for children and young people. ​​

Since the programme started The Fostering Network has made direct provision to support to over 13,000 children and young people, more than 3,500 have received one to one tuition and almost 12,000 foster carers have been provided with additional supported. We have seen a significant increase in the numbers of looked after children achieving grades A* to C following the one to one tuition provided by the Fostering Achievement programme.

The Fostering Network has been delivering the Fostering Achievement programme for almost ten years. It is unique in the UK as it is the only universal programme which aims to work with foster carers as primary educators to improve educational outcomes for looked after children. 

Kathleen Toner, director of The Fostering Network in Northern Ireland, said: “Today’s visit by the minister is an acknowledgement from Northern Ireland Executive that education doesn’t stop at the classroom door or at the end of term, and it shows that there is an understanding that foster carers have a huge role to play in supporting educational achievement.

“Fostering Achievement provides so much for the children and young people who take part. It gives them an opportunity for a brighter and more optimistic future and we believe that this investment in the children of Northern Ireland is one that must continue, and one that will benefit the whole of our community for years to come.

“The foster carers and children here today were thrilled at having the opportunity to tell the person responsible for fostering policy in Northern Ireland their stories. And they are all looking forward to a summer of fantastic Fostering Achievement activities.”

Education Minister, Peter Weir, minister for education, said: “I am pleased to have the opportunity to meet with representatives from The Fostering Network, foster and kinship carers and the children who are enjoying the summer scheme here in Victoria Primary School. Foster and kinship carers undertake an invaluable role in encouraging and supporting fostered children and young people to gain a sense of achievement and to reach their potential. They are to be congratulated for their care of these often vulnerable children and young people.”

Find out more about Fostering Achievement or if you believe you may have what it takes to be a foster carer then visit www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/providers to find out more and to contact your local fostering service.